Italy and the Czech’s look to build on a New Year


This week some good news to come out of Europe with the Czech’s looking to build on last years successes. While it finally seems that things are getting sorted out in Italy with a restructuring of FIRL and a new interim board elected while it come into line with Italy’s Olympic guidelines.


From Phil Caplan

The Czech Rugby League Association has hailed 2011 as, ‘a solid year of development’. On the international stage the Czech Republic won its first ever rugby league silverware with victory over Hungary XIII to secure the Rugby League European Federation Bowl.

The greatest progress, however, was on the domestic front with four teams competing in an extended domestic competition with Pardubice Jets winning the Minor Premiership – ahead of Lokomotiva Beroun, Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels and Prague Vikings – before also going on to win the first ever CZRLA Grand Final against Beroun.

Pardubice‘s season was also enhanced by hosting the inaugural CZRLA International Rugby League 9s Tournament, which was won in thrilling style by the Lebanese American University (LAU), who defeated a Belgrade select team in the decider. Pardubice will again host the international 9s over the Easter weekend in 2012.

The CZRLA, which became a Member of the RLEF in October, is seeking to expand in 2012, the Board issuing their aims and objectives for 2012 in a statement.

‘‘The domestic season will see rugby league develop further in the Czech Republic when a second division competition containing four expansion clubs will be launched,” it said.

“The Chrudim Angels, who made their debut in 2011, is almost certain to be one of those clubs with Hradec Kralove, who have been training under club founder Libor Hanzlicek and Gerard Keenan over the winter, another likely participant. The others will be selected from the eight applicants currently being scrutinsed by the CZRLA Board, with the final decision on the make-up of the 2012 season to be made after the CZRLA AGM later this month.“

In positive junior developments, 2011 saw the establishment of the first ever primary school rugby league training programmes centred around the cities of Pardubice, Brno and Prague and an inaugural tag rugby league competition involving junior teams from Opatovice, Horni Jeleni and Pardubice.

2012 will see this extended into a first ever junior Czech championship, with an under-18 team also scheduled to travel to Serbia to play in a European challenge competition.

Additionally, the Jets obtained the first ever state funding for a rugby league club when the Pardubice Regional Government recognised their input into both the local community and its economy.

Other clubs too made inroads into the corporate world with Vrchlabi, in particular, securing multiple sponsorship deals from local businesses; Beroun – formerly the ‘Black Panthers‘ – forging a deal with powerful local soccer club, Lokomotiva and re-branding themselves in exchange for access to high-quality local training and playing facilities and Prague – who also re-named themselves as the Vikings – launching a partnership with the European Super League champions Leeds Rhinos which will be beneficial in developing the international prominence and appeal of rugby league.

The CZRLA continued, “The sport is making steady, sustainable progress in establishing itself within the country’s sporting panorama. In 2011 there were 117 senior rugby league players registered in the Czech Republic with more than 90% of those Czech nationals and only three also registered with a rugby union club. It is expected that, with the introduction of the second division, that this number will be doubled.”


From Phil Caplan



The ‘Federazione Italiana Rugby League’ has declared that the start of 2012 will herald a positive era for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup qualified nation.

At its recent AGM, a newly appointed Constituent Committee has pledged to capitalise on the increased profile and visibility for the sport in Italy, gained by reaching the Finals for the first time, and that their domestic programme needs to grow accordingly.

The Committee has begun the process of redrafting the governing body’s statutes so that the new constitution will adhere to the criteria of CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee.

A thorough consultation process will ensure that all of Italian rugby league’s stakeholders are involved in the process which will ultimately see a new Board of Directors elected.

Until then, an interim Board led by a new interim president, Daniele Veronese, will direct FIRL. He commented, “I am grateful to all members of FIRL for the confidence and esteem they have shown towards me. My intention is to develop rugby league in Italy in the best possible way and to improve internal and external communication by the Federation.”

On the field, plans for the year include an eight-club championship – an increase of two sides – with applications currently being considered from development teams in Brescia, Genova, Alessandria and Torino, in the north west region and Este, Rovigo and a second Padova team, in the north east.

FIRL will also look to complete the second part of the RLEF’s Technical Strategy, which will result in the appointment of five coach and match officials tutors.

The technical staff will continue their work with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats assistant coach Paul Broadbent, who has been formally thanked by the Committee for his positive and professional work undertaken last year.


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